Friday, March 15, 2013

Today is my forty-third birthday,

            All this writing about me, it’s most
            unseemly. But when thousands gather
            in the stroll garden for the three best days
            of cherry blossoms, do they not see
            themselves reconfigured, windborne?
                        Stephanie Bolster, Pavilion

Another birthday. Christine and I quietly settle into domestic, into our first year of married life. What has another year allowed? What of last year, or the one prior?

For most of my life, I’ve approached my birthday as an opportunity to take stock, to see where I’ve been, and where I might be going. I’m obsessed, some say, with age. Can this be true? Possibly. I ask myself the same rough series of annual questions, attempting to take stock, and gain clarity. Where am I now? Question, always question.

And then this recent revelation about my birth mother, which I am still in the midst of processing. I now have her name, and mine. Potentially forty-three years out of date, I now have an address.

[self-portrait in the bathroom mirror, yesterday] Forty-three years ago this morning, 8:15am, I was born 8 pounds, 10 ounces, not a mile or so from where we currently live, first emerging in an unknown room at the late lamented Ottawa Grace Hospital on Wellington Street West, by Parkdale. Every trace begins to disappear.

An early birthday present, Christine gifted a dna test from 23andMe roughly six weeks ago, and we await the results. I could discover genetic information regarding background, various health considerations I couldn’t otherwise know, or even potential relations. The implications are exciting, and make me slightly anxious. As an adopted person, what could this all mean? Could I find half-siblings, a distant cousin, anything? To my knowledge, the only person I’ve met that I’m related to is my daughter. The only medical or genetic trace we have so far is seeing what happens to me, and wondering how it might eventually affect her: eyesight, hearing, possible grey hair.

She has no one to blame, it seems, but me. I have no one at all.

The past year, one of my main projects (which I discussed a couple of months ago in my The Next Big Thing self-interview) has been a collection of short stories, temporarily-titled “On beauty,” with stories published and forthcoming in such places as The Puritan, Matrix magazine and Numero Cinq. I would like to complete the manuscript this year, perhaps even manage to place it. Once this manuscript is completed, I even hope to return to that most wayward of fiction manuscripts, “Don Quixote” [see the essay I composed moons ago on such, posted to Rain Taxi]. Might this story of failure become a failure in itself? I certainly hope not.

And I still hope for the conclusion of my post-mother creative non-fiction manuscript, “The Last Good Year.” I still hope for somewhere to even send it.

There are poems, poems, poems, even as I attempt to work long-form prose projects, and keep the poems as occasional projects. A poetry manuscript, “Signature form,” begins to shape itself. I have more than a couple of unpublished poetry manuscripts around the apartment. Poems here and here and here and here. It can’t be helped, it seems.

This year, too, a series of anniversaries, as The Factory Reading Series turned twenty years old in January, and above/ground press officially turns twenty years old in August. This fall, also, the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair turns nineteen. A strange thing to think about, such a passing of time; it never feels like that long. Didn’t I only start this activity half a decade ago? (Apparently not)

I’ve been reviewing now for twenty years, and blogging for ten.

Forty-three: I feel wistful, calm. I feel on the verge of many things. I feel busy, positive and overworked, but working toward the cusp of so much greater.

A year of such significant changes. The best is yet to come.

I feel no older than I did a decade ago, although far smarter, calmer. Focused. I am no longer in a hurry.

And of course, my annual birthday poem:

Birthday, 43

                        In every part of every living thing
                        is stuff that once was rock

                        In blood the minerals
                        of the rock
                                    Lorine Niedecker, “Lake Superior

Years. We hardly suffer. Echo, mountains. Gravity: rips from the earth. This coastal road; no more lonely than a town. A nerve of balance. Walk across the street we focus on. Move, compression. Is just another day.

Darkness, it is not a dream. A light filled up with thought. Another coastal region. Once, when all is said. Half-made, half time. Candles know me, know this growing number. Instanted. Immediately, I’m here. Shells lined up along the counter.

The animal, untethered. Get winded climbing stairs. I can no longer say my name.

Angled: a particular set of memories. Clawing up against another. At three o’clock, cohere. Suspicion of the number, word.

Just when you think you know things. Shoulders, overhead. A lockout. Distances I’d been, considered. Body language; death. Ten times the facts. Just a preface, functions. Language, and translating. Speak, when are you spoken to.

Twenty years between; the world from both sides. Brays, a question. Philosopher’s language, stone. A backdrop. Definition. Just what I’d imagined: the failure to observe. How do you know.

How did I escape the womb? I wonder; pushed. Know not the whys and wherefores. Only the finished state. A mouthpiece. Systematic. Beset a mystery; pair a best friend with inquisitive mind.

The ides: it rains. More volatile, then. Let’s not get carried away. What we have here: a failure to obfuscate. The scaffolding, gone thin. Brilliance: water shone. A breathless reaction.

I am feeling a great fatigue. A volatile pathway. Presence. Doesn’t function as an image. Artificial. All too human. Economy. Gaze becomes the other. Visible, to make visible. An insight. More noise than answer. Frivolity.

Faithful to the company.

The biographical, come through. A cheetah distance. Into the sunlight, knowing. We seek chaos, explanation. I want this to be difficult.

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